By Tracey Gibb
I fell in love with my son Joshua while I still carried him inside me. I wrote to him daily, weekly throughout my pregnancy and throughout his twelve precious years on this earth.
The gift Josh brought with him in to this world was love. Unconditional, angelic, sensitive love. Love of nature, love of life, love of family, friends and love of laughter. He lit his path up with light where ever he went. He was a beautiful old soul.
As I held him in my arms when he was born my first words were, “Oh, my baby!” And when I held him in my arms when he had passed, I cried out those same words, “Oh, my baby!” His passing was a tragic accident while biking to school and I felt for sure the earth would swallow me whole. I wanted it to. But it didn’t.
Instead I was held up. By the love of my family and a whole community, I was held up. Hundreds of people enveloped me with stories of how Josh had taught them to love out loud, how his passing had reminded them that nothing in this world was more important than loving and knowing you are loved. How communities can care for each other and support each other with kindness. I was brought to my knees, overwhelmed many times by the strength of the love I have received throughout my grief. I feel extremely blessed to have been shown so much love in one lifetime. It’s almost indescribable how I have never felt alone in my journey of learning to live again without one of the most treasured gems in my life.
I have struggled every now and then to see the fairness in it all. I had been home only a few weeks from hospital out of town where I had spent almost a year receiving treatment for leukemia and had had a bone marrow transplant. I’d just had the conversation with my children to say life was going to be ok now and I promised everyone would live well as we had been through enough. My promise was broken. I couldn’t understand why I lived and Josh didn’t get to.
And that is where I have grown through grief. I have learnt that how long we are here on this earth for isn’t our story. Our story is infinite. Josh’s life has taught me more than I could ever learn alone in a lifetime. How he touched so many people’s lives with his love and humour was his gift that lives on. He united his little family in love, he united his friends and schoolmates in love. He united a community of families in love. Because in losing Josh, mums and dads everywhere realized that Josh could so have easily been their son or daughter and they went home and held their children and told them they loved them with all their hearts.
Now I live my life to love out loud. Everyday I let my family know I love them from the bottom of my heart. Wherever I go I go with an open heart, to be kind and loving to others as often as I can. I live to love because I have been loved and shown so much heartfelt love by so many when I felt so broken and the waves of grief were merciless.
Josh said two weeks before he passed away “I know people don’t really say it, Mum, but life is awesome. I can’t wait to go to school. It’s amazing. You know Mum, I think I was put on this Earth to make others happy. And I think I’ve done that! That’s cool aye?”
It is cool son. You blessed this world with your love and laughter and there will never be another you. But we have learnt from your life and through love we will grow through grief to be better than we ever were because of you, my precious loving gem.
Tracey Gibb is a mum of 3 and a nanna of one beautiful grandaughter, too. She is from Napier, New Zealand and has a daughter Jessica (22), Josh (who is in heaven) and Jarrin (15). Josh, her middle son passed five years ago in an accident with a vehicle while biking to school.